Monday, October 24, 2011

More on Inequality

Entrepreneurs helped make this country great and raised our standard of living to what was once the highest in the world. They did everything from build the railroads to invent the iPhone. Most entrepreneurs became very wealthy as a result of their creativity, risk-taking, and pioneering efforts. They generally made positive contributions to society, and used much of their wealth to support worthy causes.

On the other hand, you have the obscenely high compensation paid to CEOs and other executives – millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, and stock options. I ask: “What did these guys do to deserve such remuneration?” Generally, these executives are nothing more than overpaid managers, and sometimes not very good ones. They lay off American workers, export jobs to China, and cheapen their product, then they get paid exorbitant bonuses for “making the tough decisions”. Even when they fail, they get severance packages that are very generous from boards of directors who are more concerned with taking care of their own than the good of the business.

A CEO with vision is worth a decent salary, but paying such large amounts is what has the Occupy Wall Street folks riled up. While I may not agree with Occupy Wall Street’s leftist bent, they do have a point about the excessive executive compensation. It makes us all angry when banks and financial institutions that had serious problems and required a federal bail-out to stay solvent pay their executives huge salaries and large bonuses. It’s a slap in the face to every American taxpayer.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what you can do about it in a free society. Certainly limitations on salaries and bonuses should be placed on companies receiving bail-out money or federal loan guarantees. Perhaps laws can be passed that limit executive compensation according to a formula. While we don’t want to stifle free enterprise, executive compensation has gotten out of hand and something should be done in all fairness to the other 99%.

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